Thanksgiving is an exciting time of year for me. For one thing, I like to eat. It’s also when the weather seems to switch into the winter season, my favorite time of year. Even hot weather fans, like my Beautiful Wife, have to like the beauty of the first snows of the season. Along with the changing weather, and emerging holiday season, humanity in general seems to refresh with the theme of “Good will to all.”
As a child, I remember that my Grandparents, who lived up in Canada, celebrated Thanksgiving over a month before we did down in the USA. Now it is interesting to me how these traditions began. Our North American tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving certainly got its roots from the various European harvest festivals. The earlier timing of the Canadian Thanksgiving probably has something to do with the fact that in that more northern country, the harvest is earlier in the year than in the USA.
I wonder about my own family Thanksgiving traditions. How much of what we do to celebrate this holiday has been handed down from generation to generation? As I have studied my family history, I realize that much of what I do and say is in fact a tradition, sometimes unknowingly handed down from earlier generations. I have no written record of how my ancestors observed Thanksgiving, so I am only left with my imagination of what traditions were past down to me. But I see the pattern as I remember Thanksgiving as a child, as I think of how my Beautiful Wife and I celebrate it as a family, and now as I observe what my grown children think is important to perpetuate into their own families.
When I was little, I remember that Thanksgiving day started early like any other day. We had the farm chores to do like always, but on this day, we tried to have everything done early. Most of the day was spent being lazy around the house. This was one of the rare days when we would actually get out a board game, like monopoly. Yes, Monopoly was definitely one of our Thanksgiving Day traditions. Football games on TV was not a tradition at our house. If we weren’t entertained by playing games inside, we’d be outside playing in the snow. Sledding down a hill, or being pulled behind a tractor or some other vehicle in our large yard was ever popular. To this day, I have never gone snow skiing. That was just something the rich people did. That may change soon though.
After our wonderful dinner, we usually played both in doors and out until it was time to do chores again. I didn’t mind going out to work for a few hours after dinner. It was a good way to rework the appetite so I could go another round at that great dinner.
Other good memories include when we went to Colorado to my Aunt and Uncle’s place for Thanksgiving. I probably wouldn’t still remember that trip but our car lost the windshield defroster on our 500 mile ride home, and we had to take that winter ride with the windows rolled down.
For several years, our family participated in Thanksgiving services as a community. All the denominations participated as well as anyone else from the community who was willing. Music and prayers of Thanksgiving were offered. That was a good experience to do something like that with the whole community.
I think my favorite Thanksgiving memory is of when My Beautiful Wife and I were just starting to establish our own traditions. This was our first year as a married couple celebrating Thanksgiving. We lived on the family farm, about a quarter mile from my parent’s home. Because of her wonderful abilities as a cook, we offered to bake the pies for the extended family gathering at my parent’s home where our big feast would take place. I have lost track of how many different kinds of pies we made, but it was a lot. Banana Cream, Chocolate cream. Cherry, Apple (my favorite), Lemon Merguine (my other favorite), Pumpkin (my other, other favorite), were all on the list. I think we made about a dozen pies that year.
And then we had to transport all those pies down to my parent’s house. This shouldn’t have been a hard task, but it had been snowing and blowing that day. So the lane between our houses was drifted in. I’ll never forget seeing the look of disbelief at how much snow there was, on my Beautiful Wife’s face as she tried to struggled to wade through all the snow that hadn’t been there only hours earlier. It was quite a change for this Southern California girl who was now wondering what she had gotten herself into. All turned out well as we arrived safely and then enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner Haroldsen style.
Well, today Thanksgiving dinner is even more stylish as my Beautiful Wife has brought her best family traditions to join with my best family traditions, and we have created our own unique brand of Thanksgiving at the Haroldsens. There is still no football at our house, but the food is better than ever, with her brined turkey, homemade dinner rolls to die for, potatoes and gravy, salads, and vegetables fixed for a king. And of course for desert there will be at least a half a dozen different kinds of pie, including my favorite, my other favorite, and my other, other favorite.